1. Description of Our Community
Erlin Township is located in the southwestern part of Changhua County. The area is flat and most of the locals are farmers. Grapes, Chinese leeks, red Job’s tears, and buckwheat are some of the well-known agricultural products in this area. Wanhe Elementary School is located in Wanhe, a small village in Erlin. There are many traditional houses in our community. People lead a very simple lifestyle here. One problem we are facing is that the population here is decreasing dramatically. Young people tend to relocate for job opportunities. Most of our students live with their grandparents. Over the past few years, we have less than ten first graders entering our school every year. The number of our students has dropped to 57 this year.
2. Summary of Our Project
When Mr. Luke Lin realized that rural students in Jhutang Township were at a disadvantage due to lack of educational resources, he sprang into action. With the assistance of a local Buddhist monastery, Luke began offering free English classes on Sundays. As parent support developed, Luke was able to expand his offerings to include annual English contests and numerous educational events during the summer break. These selfless actions and the enthusiasm displayed by Luke and other volunteers led to increased community support and the founding of a non-profit organization in 2009. My Culture Connect’s founding purpose was the development of wide and free access to educational resources for the schools of Changhua County. The year 2010 was a turning point for Luke's organization. Because of helping the international organization, Up with People, when they visited Taiwan, My Culture Connect became a platform for cultural exchanges between Taiwan and other nations. Selfless acts, of this nature, proved to be critical in breaking down national and cultural boundaries. Luke, the subject of our project, is one of several people we interviewed. Nine people, including the American volunteers, Mike Dishnow and Jerry Becwar, offered their thoughts on Luke Lin and My Culture Connect. All together, we recorded more than 40 hours in our quest to understand this incredible selfless man. Luke Lin’s dreams come to life in the words of these witnesses and participants in his life. Our goals go beyond exploring Luke’s dreams and extend to sowing the seeds of hope in the minds of students. Careful cultivation of these seeds will promote the growth of young people who grow up to give back to the society that has nurtured them.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
First, it was difficult for us to choose between the Local Leaders and Community Groups and Special Populations . We were intrigued. How could an organization with such limited resources be so effective in assisting rural schools with English education? As we learned more about the successes of this organization, it became more and more obvious that the founder’s dreams were the underlying foundation of this impressive slate of accomplishments. We decided to focus on Luke Lin and his dreams for our research project for 2014. Second, the project team members, who are sixth graders, have limited English skills. Luke’s strong advocacy of international educational exchanges leads to interviews of native English speakers. We interviewed two of his American volunteers, Michael Dishnow and Jerry Becwar, in person here in Changhua. Students must rely on the assistance of their English teachers, Winnie Zheng and Jessie Qiu. The third problem is the lack of time. Regular classes and homework leave little time to do interviews.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Is there a direct relationship between a person’s achievements and his/her vision? Many say that this is so. Taking Mr. Luke Lin as an example, we note that, during his 12 years of volunteer service, he has offered free after-school programs, produced and presented English newscasts, developed and promoted Skype sessions and developed many English teaching materials. His newest venture is a project named the Renshi Academy. Renshi will develop and make learning materials and teachers available to all who desire to improve themselves through education. There is often a price paid for pursuing dreams. Luke is a fortunate man who has enjoyed the support of his family and friends as he follows his dreams. It may be counterintuitive to many, the idea of working selflessly for others, but the result is good works and the role modeling so valuable to our young people and others.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
The activities and research for the 2014 Cyberfair project supports standards, required coursework and curriculum standards through its design, implementation and activities. First, it adheres closely to the core values and goals as stated for Grade 1 through grade 9 curriculums. Second, the research integrates nicely with the subjects of language, writing, information technology and the arts. Many integrative activities cross course boundaries. Third, we, at Wanhe Elementary, believe the best character education is in real-life models like this. Our activities, under this year’s project, seek to promote good character traits. Students interviewed Luke’s colleagues in My Culture Connect, international volunteers and community members to gain a better understanding of the good that he does. They also participated in the following activities in this endeavor:
1.They sought community support by asking people to add their signatures to student prepared cards. 2.They held a sale to raise money for Luke’s cause.
3.They prepared a presentation to share the results of the project and their thoughts about Luke.
4.They asked every student at school to write positive thoughts on a card shaped like a leaf, which they placed on a tree named Luke’s Tree. To sum up, this project is an exercise in character education. Students exposed to role models like this have the seeds for positive societal impact and community involvement sown early. These seeds will develop and produce productive adults in the greater Taiwanese community.